by Jordan Ruimy

This is the third year I’ve been doing the Sumer Movie Preview for Awardsdaily and it seems like every year the quality only diminishes. Think about it, most of the big name blockbusters that will rake up all the money in the world this summer are either based on a TV show, a superhero movie or a sequel to a movie that never really needed a sequel. So yes, this list does have a few of those and I’m willing to believe they will be good films, but while researching this list I was really trying hard to find stuff that will come under the radar and really aim for more than just cheap thrills. I found nine movies that peaked my interest.

Transcendence (April 17th)

I’m really pushing it with this one since it really isn’t “officially” summer movie season on that date but still, this film looks genuinely thought provoking and it’s from Wally Pfister who’s been Christopher Nolan’s director of photography for god knows how any years. Suffice it to say the plot to this one is very Nolan-esque and it features a pretty great cast, especially Johnny Depp who could probably use a comeback vehicle after quite a few misses the last decade.

22 Jump Street (June 13th)

I loved 21 Jump Street. That was just one of the funniest theatrical experiences I’ve had in quite some time. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are really on a roll. They both made that incredible, well reviewed “Lego Movie” which came out earlier this year and now they’re back with this sequel to their 2012 hit. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill – also on a roll these days – are back and ready to attack with this one and I personally cannot wait. The chemistry they had in the first one was really fun and loose and come on, this list doesn’t have to include just serious, Oscar bait material.

How to Train Your Dragon 2  (June 13th)

Let’s continue with the fun stuff. This can actually be a major contender for Best Animated Feature at next year’s Oscars (especially since there is no Pixar film coming out in 2014). The original film was really good and probably the best use of 3D in an animated movie that I’ve ever seen. It was also a great idea bringing back director Dean DeBois, he really did a fine job with the original.

Jersey Boys (June 20th)

I’m really curious to see what Clint Eastwood is going to do with the beloved Broadway play of the same name. He’s a great filmmaker that has slightly stalled of late with “J.Edgar, “Hereafter” and “Invictus”, not living up to the standards he set when he was on fire early on last decade with “Mystic River”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Letters From Iwo Jima” and “Gran Torino”. I think he still has a few great movies left in his tank, but is this one of them? I’m not sure. I do believe this is Mr. Eastwood’s first crack at directing a musical so we can’t blame him for not taking risks.

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Boyhood (July 11th)

This is probably the movie I’m most looking forward to. I don’t know many people who don’t like Richard Linklater. His vast, ambitious filmography really just speaks for itself. After he triumphed with “Before Midnight”, he brings us an even more ambitious film called “Boyhood”, which was filmed in a 12 year span. The story follows a boy’s life from the ages of 5-18. The cast includes Linklater regular,and fellow Texan, Ethan Hawke and, one of my favorites, Patricia Arquette. If the reviews from Sundance and Berlin are any indication, Linklater has just made another great movie.

Dawn of the Planet Of The Apes (July 11th)

2011’s “Rise of The Planet of the Apes” was such a surprising gem. Not only was it a really well made Hollywood blockbuster, but it left us wanting more. We will be getting more on July 11th, albeit with a different director at the helm as the original film’s Ruper Wyatt stepped down and in came Matt Reeves (“Let Me In”, “Cloverfield”) who will have the hard task of one upping Wyatt’s fantastic film. In this new film, the evolved apes will be battling human survivors in a battle of earth’s species.

Get On Up (August 1st)

Given all the time and legal problems it took to finally get a James Brown bio-pic in the works, I was sceptical we’d ever get one. Well folks, we’re getting. It’s about time too since James Brown had one hell of a wild life – one that could easily translate cinematically. The director here is Tate Taylor and he made “The Help”, so all the Oscar cards are set for this one, even though I wasn’t a big fan of that film. We’re probably going to get something à la “Ray” or “Walk The Line”, very by the books but probably very well made. If early buzz and the trailer are any indication, Chadwick Boseman’s performance of James Brown could be worthy of a statuette.

The Giver (August 15th)

Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges do Science Fiction? Yea, you heard it right. This has the potential to be really good. Not many people are talking about it. Add in vastly underrated filmmaker Philip Noyce (“Rabbit-Proof Fence”, “The Quiet American”) and the potential is truly there. This is based on the award-winning novel by Lois Lowry about a futuristic utopian society that gradually appears to be more and more dystopian.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August 22nd)

“Sin City” came out in 2005, got critically acclaimed, built a loyal cult following, was a surprising box office success and – in my eyes – was the best film Robert Rodriguez ever made. Since then, plenty of imitators have tried to copy the film but they all failed (yes, I’m even counting “300”), most of them were based on Frank Miller novels. For almost 9 years now there’s been talk of a sequel but it just never materialized. So finally now we get our sequel and,judging by the trailer, it looks as visually sumptuous as the first one. Rodriguez is back in the director’s chair, so we’ll hopefully be getting a good shot of that dark pulp film noir that made the first movie so good.